This morning the plan was to go back sailing with a few more kids, in addition to the ones who went yesterday. The wind was right, enough to push the boat around but not enough to kick up waves. I called Ernesto early and let him know the plan. He told me he’d let the guys know. I went for a swim and then saw a text from Ernesto that he didn’t want to go… he wanted to stay behind and paint or something, and I could take the other guys sailing.
Got to the parish and called Ernesto into my office. “Ernesto, that was a disaster yesterday you know.” Father Mike, you don’t know how to dock. “Ernesto, shut up for a minute.” Father, you’re a terrible docker. “Ernesto, please just listen for a minute.” Ok. “My intention here is to help you be a better person and a better man. And I hope you can help me be a better teacher.” He’s quiet. “Some people, you know, have a hard time with failing at something. Somehow their failures are tied to their self esteem, and when they fail it really hurts them badly. Do you know what I mean?” He smiles and nods. “I’m hoping to teach you to fail, and for it to not hurt your feelings. And quitting something isn’t the way to learn. Do you understand?” He nods. “Besides, I also need you to help me become a better teacher. Yesterday when you told me that I needed to get better at showing people how to do things, you were right. If I had been able to tell you what you needed to know in a way you could understand it, things would have gone differently yesterday. Do you agree?” He nods. “Besides, I need you to help me move bodies. You have a car, and we need to move people. Not only that, but you already know way more about boats than these kids who’ve never been on a boat. So, do you want to try this again?” Yeah, ok father, we’ll try it again. “I’m glad Ernesto. And you know what else, you have tons of talent and you’ll be doing great things.” (he’s great at making and editing videos, they tell me.)
On the way to the boat we stopped at the Guero supermarket for some waters, and off we went to sail. This time, Daniel and Adrian were the newbies, and the other guys helped with showing them things like the anchor dropping drill, and where to put the safety equipment, and where the life jackets were and all the rest. My sister suggested that I put some tape on the cleat where I wanted the kids to grab with the boat hook, and I did. From now on it’ll be “grab the cleat with the blue tape on it!” We pulled out to sail without a problem.
Out on the water I could see that the newbies were a little nervous. There was enough wind to push the boat around… and some strong gusts that made the boat heel over a bit (that’s when the boat tips sideways). We’d forgotten to unclip the line that holds the boom steady when you’re at the mooring, and I was bedeviled to figure out why the boom wasn’t moving right. Finally I figured out that we’d left that line on and I had the kids disconnect it. I guess it helps them to see that I make mistakes, too!
In any case, it was a great couple of hours on the water. Some had never been on a boat at all, and some never on a boat like this, and the newbies had never seen the skyline. They sailed the boat (with the autopilot on) for a while, taking turns. I’d ask them our speed, the wind speed, and all the rest. Then Adrian, the one the most afraid at first, took the wheel and asked if he could steer the boat with the autopilot off. He steered us toward Navy Pier, and did pretty well. Then Daniel, and eventually, all of them steered the boat for a while without the autopilot.
On the way back, we were on a different heading, and the wind got to be pretty gusty. I think it’s probably global warming, but who knows. The wind would go from almost nothing to around 17 knots. I mention this because at one point the boat heeled over pretty good, and Adrian made a noise like he was terrified. I changed the heading and the boat levelled out a bit. The other kids were making fun of him, and I told him, “Adrian, I did that so you wouldn’t pee your pants.” He told me, thank you father. Then I looked to the other kids, “You guys shouldn’t be making fun of him. I saw it on your faces, you all had that terrified look. You were scared, too, weren’t you?” They all nodded. I laughed. “Be nice to each other. After all, you have to count on each other on a boat.” We were all laughing a bit after the scare.
The guys drove the boat into the harbor and helped with the sail. They got out the boat hooks, and went to their stations to dock the boat. It went perfectly. We pulled in, Ernesto grabbed the forward cleat and Jose the other one, and we secured the boat. Ernesto gave me the thumbs up, and they did all the things you have to do to secure the boat. You know, put the cushions away, hook up shore power, put instrument covers back on, put the sail cover on, secure reefing lines and the main halyard and the main sheet, and all the rest. In 10 minutes, they got the boat ready for the next trip, and we headed back to the parish. What a difference from yesterday.
We’ll see how the next trip goes!